20 years – makes a planner think….



20 years – makes a planner think….




I’ve worked for (essentially) the same company for 20 years this month. That’s when I started working with Steve Allan (now global CEO of MediaCom but new business director of TMB back then).

Of course the company I started out with in a grotty back street off Tottenham Court Road has changed a great deal since then – It’s a lot bigger for a start – although I’m pleased to say that many of the people who were there then are still here now.

But it’s not just MediaCom that has grown up and changed. So too, and massively so, has the media industry. 20 years ago it was a radical move to switch from the media department of a full service creative agency to go to a media independent. Friends of mine thought that I was effectively “leaving the industry” when I went to TMB. The very high profile media people of that day sat at full service agencies in the media departments of GGT, Lowe, WCRS or BBH.

One of the things about MediaCom – now the largest UK media agency – is that most of its growth was organic. New business pitch after new business pitch was won by a team that grew in size, experience and talent. And client after client started not just to appoint TMB and then MediaCom, but to choose other media independents as well. What was an exception two decades ago, gradually became the norm.

And the reason why clients moved from full-service to begin with lay in the fact that media agencies that had separate contracts with clients could offer truly media independent advice. And then to offer return on investment advice to show in a truly media neutral way what worked and what didn’t.

Those reasons for the revolution in the industry are also the reasons why this is still such an interesting and exciting job. Communications neutral advice now encompasses much more than just TV, Print, Radio, Cinema and Outdoor. Now planners are thinking through whether there is even a role for brand advertising, or whether ppc seo and branded content will do the job better.

It’s been an exciting couple of decades. But Moore’s law applies to the pace of change in our industry too. New developments continue to happen faster than ever. And – brilliantly – the consumer continues to cope with them, and to adopt some and reject others in a way that most pundits are unable to predict. The revolution is not nearly over yet.

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